AJC New England 2020 Candidate Survey: Question 8
Question 8: Israel is home to nearly half of the world’s Jewish population. Israel is a democratic country and its citizens are accustomed to robust debate, at home and abroad, concerning their nation’s policies and actions. Regrettably, in the United States and elsewhere, there is mounting support for movements, such as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign, that purport to promote Palestinian rights but do so by denying Israel’s legitimacy, refusing dialogue, and advocating for Israel’s destruction. This malicious portrayal of Israel and the reality of its conflict with the Palestinians has prompted notable acts of antisemitism; especially on college campuses. It has also polarized public discourse and dimmed prospects for a negotiated solution to the conflict. If elected to Congress, what, if anything, would you say to those who deny Israel’s legitimacy and advocate for an end of the world’s only Jewish state?
As mentioned in previous answers, I believe that it must always remain the explicit position of the United States that Israel has a right to exist as the only Jewish state in the world. This is not a position that we can compromise on or negotiate at the table. It is a sacred precondition, without which no peace plan will ever be accepted by the United States.
BDS is a not-so-subtly antisemitic movement whose goals are misguided and will never bring about peace. The way to counter this is to a) acknowledge this out loud and from positions of power, like the US Congress, and b) to lead by example. Israel is a shining democracy in a Middle East that is overrun by dictators and regimes hostile to basic freedoms and liberties. In Congress, I will recognize this special relationship with the State of Israel and will support it to foster a closer relationship between Israeli and American businesses, universities, and nonprofits. To counter BDS, we must lead by example and support policies that foster a closer integration between our democracies.
For me, advocating for lasting peace and security for Israel isn’t simply a policy position, it’s personal. I grew up in a Conservative Jewish household, with a father who converted to Judaism to marry my mother. When we were kids, my mother would tell us about my great- grandmother who stood up to the Cossacks in Poland, refusing to cook a nonkosher chicken for soldiers who came to her door demanding she do so. I was raised knowing I would always have a home and a safe haven in Israel. I oppose the dangerous Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which is rooted in anti-Semitic sentiment. I believe that the BDS movement should be called out for what it is – an anti-Semitic attempt to delegitimize Israel and deny her right to exist. One of the BDS movement’s three stated goals is the right of return of Palestinians who have left Israel over the last 70 years to their homes and properties in what is now Israel; such a notion would mean the end of Israel as a democratic Jewish state. BDS further undermines a two-state solution by laying blame singularly on Israel, prioritizing that over lifting up ordinary Palestinians. BDS also puts US jobs at risk, as US exports to Israel support American jobs, and Israeli-owned companies provide jobs to US workers.
I will say that in the United States we do not deny the legitimacy of free nations, we always should have dialogue with those we disagree with, and that advocating for Israel's destruction is equivalent to advocating the destruction of the United States - a free nation that embraces democratic principles for all people. I will also support all actions necessary to help Israel defend itself against any efforts by entities that try to destroy them.
Like the overwhelming majority of the Democratic caucus, I believe that the campaign to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel is counterproductive, discriminatory, and wrong. Efforts to isolate Israel do nothing to advance the cause of peace, and – indeed, make it easier for opponents of a two-state solution to argue that Israelis cannot count on the international community to protect its interests.
Furthermore, BDS’s defenders often cross the line from legitimate foreign policy criticism, to outright bigotry. College campuses, in particular, are becoming places where Jewish students feel targeted and unwelcome. There can be no justification for professors withholding letters of recommendation from a student simply because she wishes to study abroad in Israel. There can be no justification for ejecting passengers from a taxi simply because they are speaking Hebrew. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, we must clearly demonstrate that there is no room for such hatred.
I fully support Israel’s right to exist and if elected to Congress I will fight hard through my platform of justice and equity against those who seek to delegitimize Israel. The promotion of Palestinian rights is not antithetical to Israel’s existence and legitimacy. As noted in my previous answer, I will not stand for antisemitism or any other forms of bigotry or hate speech.
I oppose the global BDS Movement because, first and foremost, it does not support a two-state solution or the vital need for a Jewish state. I strongly oppose any anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from this movement and will forcefully do so whenever I see it - as we all should. I believe that BDS is misguided and not the most effective approach to the pursuit of peace or security for Israelis or Palestinians.
I am very much opposed to BDS as a movement and would support anti-BDS legislation like HR – 246. I do, however, firmly believe in civil liberties and the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech. As Americans, we have the right to offer political opinions and to perform acts of political expression. As such, I am also opposed to efforts to curtail free speech aimed at BDS proponents. I believe in informed democratic debate and the thoughtful exchange of ideas and I do not believe that Israel's defense requires the silencing of its critics.
Regarding inquiries 1-9, I plan to work with US Government Officials, Institutions and other subject matter experts to work towards addressing these important topics.
I strongly condemn the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. As someone who has visited the West Bank, and has personally spoken to Palestinians living in the West Bank, I know and have seen first-hand that BDS actually hurts the Palestinian people more that it helps them, because it closes the door to jobs and economic opportunities that could raise their standard of living. The very creation of the BDS movement was meant as a way to economically wipe Israel off the face of the earth, when it became apparent that terrorist groups could not attain their goal militarily.
While many members of the BDS movement today sincerely want peace, they have been the victims of lies themselves by the BDS leadership who seek nothing less than the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The goals of the BDS movement are antithetical to United States values. The movement’s single-minded focus on Israel raises serious questions about its motivations and intentions, when fundamental rights are being trampled and human rights abuses and atrocities are being committed routinely in other parts of the world, but they instead choose to only focus on the sole democracy in the Middle East and sole Jewish State in the world.
The BDS movement also makes a two-state solution and lasting peace far more difficult by demonizing, delegitimizing and isolating Israel, by suggesting that economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real bilateral negotiations.
I will also fight efforts to isolate, stigmatize or delegitimize Israel in international forums, including at the United Nations, where Israel is the frequent target of prejudice, bias, and hatred. Although the UN Charter calls for all member states to be treated equally, Israel has been unfairly singled out and targeted more than any other country by the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) is the leading organization dedicated to Jewish advocacy at home and around the world. Through a global network comprised of 24 domestic regional offices; 12 overseas posts in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East; and 37 partnerships with international Jewish communities, AJC engages with political, religious and civic leaders to combat antisemitism and bigotry, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, and advance democratic values at home and abroad.
AJC New England recently invited all 11 Republican and Democratic declared candidates for the Congressional seat from the 4th District of Massachusetts to participate in a survey on some matters of import to our community.
AJC is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan organization and does not endorse or support any candidate for elected office, whether or not they responded to the survey. We offer this survey to educate the electorate about the views of the candidates for this office.